The British Virgin Islands’ Acting Premier Natalio Wheatley said on Saturday that he has been nominated to take over as premier, in light of elected premier Andrew Fahie’s drug arrest in Miami last week.
Wheatley said in a Facebook Live address that efforts are underway for Fahie to resign.
“I never contemplated that leadership of the British Virgin Islands would come so soon, or under these circumstances,” Wheatley said. “There is a tremendous work to be done, and the fate of the British Virgin Islands hangs in the balance.”
Fahie, 51, was arrested at a Miami airport along with the managing director of the territory’s Ports Authority, Oleanvine Maynard, according to a complaint by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Fahie’s arrest came the day before a commission of inquiry recommended that the British Virgin Islands, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, have its constitution and assembly suspended due to dishonesty in governance.
The DEA complaint said Fahie had agreed to allow an informant, who was posing as a member of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, to use British Virgin Islands‘ ports to ship cocaine in return for a payment of $500,000.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said at the time that the arrests should send a clear message that “anyone involved with bringing dangerous drugs into the United States will be held accountable, no matter their position.”
The DEA’s complaint shows that the investigation, based on observations and recordings from the confidential informant, started in October.
According to the complaint, the informant claimed in meetings with Fahie, BVI ports Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard and her son, Kadeem Maynard, to be a cartel member looking to move thousands of kilograms of Colombian cocaine through Tortola island and eventually to Puerto Rico for export to New York and Miami.
“Fahie agreed to allow the confidential source to use the ports to ship his cocaine,” according to the complaint, adding that he requested a $500,000 upfront payment in return.
The British Virgin Islands premier also requested help in paying down an $83,000 debt to a man in Senegal who had “fixed” some political issues for him, the complaint said.
Fahie was arrested in Miami after being separately shown designer shopping bags in a private plane that ostensibly showed $700,000 for him and Oleanvine Maynard, the complaint said.
His defense has called for his immediate release on the grounds that he has diplomatic immunity by virtue of being the elected leader of the British Virgin Islands.
Wheatley said he had been nominated by the country’s leadership body to take over, but will need to be formally appointed and await Fahie’s resignation before he can take up office.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters